Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today offered consumers advice on how to protect their personal information in the aftermath of a widespread internet security glitch called the “Heartbleed bug.”
“The Heartbleed bug poses a serious problem to your personal information online,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Consumers should remain vigilant in making sure their accounts have not been compromised and they do not get scammed.”
The Heartbleed bug refers to a two-year online security flaw that may have allowed scammers to capture the personal information of online users, even if a website appeared to be secure. As a result, consumers’ usernames, passwords, and even credit card numbers could have been accessed. In an effort to protect against related scams and fraud, consumers are encouraged to change their passwords to their online accounts, including banking, social media, shopping, and email. However, before updating passwords, consumers should confirm that the companies have fixed the problem within their individual system.
DeWine also warned Ohioans that following the news of the Heartbleed bug, scammers may seek to take advantage of consumers’ heightened concern and pose as legitimate organizations by email or phone saying that the consumer’s account has been compromised and if the consumer divulges their account password, the scammer can fix the problem.
Consumers can help protect themselves by following these tips:
Perform an internet search to find a list of websites that were comprised as a result of the Heartbleed bug. Do not log into sites until you’re sure the company has fixed the website.
Choose different and complex passwords for each online account. Remember to change passwords often. Also, if you use the same password for multiple accounts, you may consider changing all accounts that use the same password.
Review bank account and credit card statements regularly. Immediately report any suspicious activity to your bank or credit card company.
Beware of emails or text messages appearing to originate from government agencies or well-known companies that reference the Heartbleed bug and instruct you to click on a link to “change your password.” Some scammers may use this as ploy to get you to click on malicious links.
Remember that cellular phones are also affected by the Heartbleed bug. Take the time to update the software on your cellular phone and create new passwords.
Consumers who suspect that they are a victim of an unfair or deceptive business act, a scam, or identity theft should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.